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You are watching a free tutorial from Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Season 1.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.

You are watching a free tutorial from Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Season 1.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.


Looking for some helpful tips for engagement photos at the beach? We’ve got you covered with these natural light techniques! In this behind the scenes video, we cover easy poses, camera settings, and lighting tips to get perfect photos at the beach!

1. Camera Settings For Beach Portraits

Struggling with dialing in the right exposure for your bright beach scene? Follow along in the video to see Pye’s exact camera settings for each scene. You’ll notice that as he moves around the tide pools to capture different angles, he is using the light to shape his subjects different which will yield different exposure settings. When the couple is back-lit he is pushing his camera to the limit to retrieve as much dynamic range as possible from the scene at ISO 100, f/1.4, and a shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second.

[REWIND: Get The Perfect Exposure With This One Tip]

Camera settings for beach photography will vary depending on the gear that you choose for the scene. In this video Pye is using the Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4. Overall, we want to focus on maximizing dynamic range to see the rich detail of the scene without having any loss of information. You can always use your histogram to help you arrive at the proper exposure.

2. Natural Light Beach Photography

When working with natural light, keep your subjects back-lit, meaning that the sun is behind them. Hard light creates unflattering shadows and reveals texture on the skin. By placing your subjects with their backs against the light, you have a nice wrap of light on their shoulders and hair as you can see in the image above.

Intimate Couples Poses

After taking a couple of standard portraits, ease into the session with more complex posing. Swap your lens and come in closer for tighter compositions and have your couple get a bit more intimate by closing in their bodies towards each other.

Have Fun, Be silly!

From there you can give simple posing cues to break the tension and make them laugh to keep the session light-hearted. This is an easy way to get a variety of looks within one scene and to ease your couple into the photo session.

3. Add Fill Light With Reflector

If you find that your couple is getting lost in the shadows after placing them with their backs facing the sun, add some light back into the scene using a 5-in-1 Reflector. Depending on how harsh you want the light to be, use the silver side or layer the white side on top of the silver side of the reflector. In this image, we are using the SunBounce to pump some light into our couple.

4. Unique Compositions Using Reflections

Use elements of the environment to aid you in creating a more creative composition. Here, we saw an opportunity to utilize the reflective properties of the tide pools and placed our subjects further away from the camera to capture the entire scene. This is a great opportunity to catch crashing waves as well! You’ll notice that since we are using the sun as our key light source instead of a back light, our shutter speed changes a bit to bring to reveal more shadows from 1/8000th or a second to 1/5000th of a second.

For more behind-the-scenes videos like this check out our Unscripted Series or upgrade to SLR Lounge Premium!

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Keith White

    What is your deciding factor when choosing between your Phottix Mitros and a more powerful flash like the b1 or b2’s? Thanks!!

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Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Season 1